When Iris was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, her son, Rich, had no idea how he was going to oversee his mother's health in Iowa from his Colorado home.
"I get back once every several weeks, but she was thrown for a loop when she was diagnosed, and she's not that great at managing her health," Rich says. "She grew up as a tough Iowa farm girl; when she told me about the diabetes, her attitude was, 'I'll eat better. It will be fine.'"
It wasn't fine; weeks later, Rich received a call from a hospital in Des Moines. His mom, who had just turned 75, had been admitted with dangerously high blood sugar. A neighbor had noticed Iris hadn't brought her newspapers inside for two days and went to investigate; Iris answered the door, but was sleepy and disoriented. The neighbor called 911.
Rich traveled to Des Moines and, as Iris recovered, tried to persuade his mother to move to a community where she could live independently, but have access to healthcare when and if it was needed. Iris wouldn't hear of it, though, and Rich had no idea how to move forward until a hospital social worker made a suggestion.
"She told me about WesleyLife at Home and that Mom could qualify for nurse visits," Rich recalls. "She's on Medicare, and all we needed was an order from her doctor when she was discharged. The nurse comes a couple times a week, helps mom organize her medications, and tests her blood sugar.
"We haven't had another episode. Mom is happy with the arrangement -- and I can sleep at night."
Joy White, Executive Director of WesleyLife at Home, says situations like Iris and Rich's are common: An older adult is determined to remain at home, but needs help to remain independent and safe there; her family is unaware that help is readily available.
"When people think of WesleyLife, they often think of our Communities for Healthy Living, but they might be surprised to know that we actually serve more people who choose to remain at home," Joy says. "Many people who live at home stay healthy as they age, but some don't. And when they need support, we can provide it."
When Rich put in an initial call to WesleyLife at Home, a team member talked him through services that might be available to his mom, and explained which ones might be covered by insurance; Iris's doctor authorized two nurse visits a week, which Medicare would pay for.
The doctor also suggested Iris might benefit from non-medical assistance at home, such as help with cleaning and healthy cooking. This assistance is not covered by insurance, but Rich found the cost reasonable and agreed to pay for the services out of pocket to help his mom.
"This is how things are going: When I visited last time, Mom was showing me pictures of the nurse and the aide who come help her!" Rich says. "She has them up on the refrigerator with the pictures of me and my kids. She calls her helpers 'my girls' and, boy, does she look forward to seeing them. And they care about her, too; they have my cell number and call me anytime there's something they're concerned about."
Rich says he would advise any adult child of parent who wants to continue living at home to check out WesleyLife at Home.
"I wish I had found them five years earlier," he says. "They're good people, very down-to-Earth, and they're not just out to make money. They really care -- and when they tell you they'll make your life easier, they mean it."
WesleyLife at Home would love to help your loved one! Learn more here, or call (515) 978-2777 to inquire or begin services.